In late summer, hackberry trees often become infested by hackberry lace bugs. The bugs are eighth-inch-long insects that feed on the juices of hackberry leaves, causing a discoloration. Hackberry lace bugs sometimes fall off the tree, land on people and bite. Although painful, the bite does not require any medical treatment. The bugs also do not usually damage the hackberry trees enough to require control. However, you can get rid of them if they become a nuisance.
Things You'll Need
- Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil
Spray your hackberry tree with a strong jet of water from a hose to remove the hackberry bugs in your tree. This is most effective if you do it in the spring when the eggs hatch because the immature hackberry bugs are not yet strong enough to get back up the tree. This method removes hackberry lace bugs without introducing chemicals that can potentially harm the natural predators of the bugs.
Spray an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil all over the infested tree, focusing on the underside of the leaves, where hackberry lace bug nymphs feed. Insecticidal soaps and oils don't affect the bugs' natural predators because they kill insects only on contact. Repeat application if you still see hackberry lace bugs in your tree. Soaps and oils are usually sufficiently effective to control hackberry lace bugs, according to the University of Rhode Island.
Spray the hackberry lace bugs with an insecticide if the soaps and oils don't sufficiently control the infestation. You can use a product that contains malathion as the active ingredient. Insecticides labeled for use against hackberry lace bugs are available at garden centers. For best results, treat the infested tree in the spring and repeat treatment in 10 to 14 days according to the product label instructions.
Move the hackberry tree to a shady location, if possible. Hackberry lace bugs prefer bright, sunny areas and rarely attack plants in shaded areas.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Late Summer Biting Bugs; Barb Ogg; October 2006
- University of Rhode Island: Lace Bugs
- Iowa State University; Yellowing Hackberry Trees Usually Means Lace Bugs; Donald Lewis; Aug. 11, 1995
- Pennsylvania State University; Lace Bug on Deciduous Woody Ornamental Plants; Gregory A. Hoover; January 2002